The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Prior to the launch of our new benchmark suite, we wanted to include The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, which is easily the most popular RPG of 2011. However as any Skyrim player can tell you, Skyrim’s performance is CPU-bound to a ridiculous degree. With the release of the 1.4 patch and the high resolution texture pack this has finally been relieved to the point where GPUs once again matter, particularly when we’re working with high resolutions and less than high-end GPUs. As such, we're now including it in our test suite.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - 2560x1600 - Ultra Quality + 4xMSAA/16xAF

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - 1920x1200 - Very High Quality + 4xMSAA/16xAF

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - 1680x1050 - High Quality + 4xMSAA/16xAF

Skyrim presents us with an interesting scenario. At anything less than 2560 we’re CPU limited well before we’re GPU limited, and yet even though we’re CPU limited NVIDIA manages to take a clear lead while the 680 still finds room to push to the top. For whatever the reason NVIDIA would appear to have significantly less driver overhead here, or at the very least a CPU limited Skyrim interacts with NVIDIA’s drivers better than it does AMD’s.

In any case 2560 does move away from being CPU limited, but it’s not entirely clear whether the difference we’re seeing here is solely due to GPU performance, or if we’re still CPU limited in some fashion. Regardless of the reason the GTX 680 has a 10% lead on the 7970 here.

Starcraft II Civilization V
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  • george1976 - Saturday, March 24, 2012 - link

    Excuse me sir but I think you've been reading the wrong article. Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Thursday, March 22, 2012 - link

    Just a heads up guys, we're a bit behind schedule and are still adding images and tables, so hold on. Reply
  • casteve - Thursday, March 22, 2012 - link

    whew - thought my coffee hadn't kicked in :) Reply
  • Granseth - Thursday, March 22, 2012 - link

    Hi, liked the review but are missing a few things, though I expect them to be reviewed at a later time in a new article. Like the improved multi-screen support, SLI, overclocking and things like that.

    But I would like to know more about this turbo as well. What I am courious about is if it will boost minimum framerate as well as average framerate, or if the GPU is so taxed when it hits minimum framerate that it won't have anything extra to offer up to its turbo.
    Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Thursday, March 22, 2012 - link

    Minimum framerates. -16% power target on the left, stock on the right.

    Crysis Min: 21.4...21.9

    Dirt3 Min: 73.4....77.1

    So to answer your question, it depends on the game.
    Reply
  • Jamahl - Thursday, March 22, 2012 - link

    Just a comment on the power draw - I wonder if you could test the 680 and 7970 in a different game, say for example Batman of BF3. The reason for this is due to the 7970 winning in Metro, while losing in most of the others and I wonder if there is something going on regarding power draw. Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Friday, March 23, 2012 - link

    See the GTX 680 win in Metro 2033 all the way on up 1920 and 2560 resolutions >
    http://hothardware.com/Reviews/NVIDIA-GeForce-GTX-...

    What's different is AAA is used, as well as the Sandy E runs stock at 3,300 and is not overclocked.
    What appears to be a big problem for AMD cards is they have been offloading work to the cpu much more than the Nvidia cards, and even more so in CF v SLI, so when you don't have a monster CPU with a monster overclock to boot the AMD cards lose even worse.
    Reply
  • SlyNine - Friday, March 23, 2012 - link

    Anandtech uses AAA for Metro.

    You need to look agian, the difference is no DOF and hothardware is running at lower settings.

    you, fail.
    Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - link

    Oh I didn't fail, I showed the 680 winning in the game that is claimed it loses in.
    That's a WIN for me, period.
    Reply
  • SlyNine - Friday, April 27, 2012 - link

    Ok so your 500$ video card can win at lower settings than the 459$ videocard. Reply

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